Skip to content

George Washington Graduate Heads to College After Winning Car

Sylvia Phillips, the school’s community-based resource coordinator, poses with Sweet Pate.

Thanks to hard work in the classroom, a recent George Washington High School graduate is on the road to college and one mile closer to her dream of creating a business that helps low-income people.

Sweet Pate recently capped off her amazing academic career as one of the top seniors at George Washington High School by getting behind the wheel of a 2013 Nissan Sentra as part of the school’s annual “Making the Grade” initiative.

The school’s annual program is designed to encourage and motivate students to achieve academic excellence and improve behavior. The prizes for outstanding achievements included scholarships, gaming consoles, and the vehicle.

Pate, who graduated with her classmates Monday, May 22, was honored at the school’s Senior Awards Breakfast on May 15. In the fall she plans on attending Indiana State University, about a 90-minute drive west of Indianapolis.

“Being awarded with this vehicle will allow me to save more money towards my education at Indiana State University,” she said. “I will be able to have transportation while attending school and be able to commute to home when I need.

“Having my own transportation during college is very important because it’ll help me save money without having to pay for transportation to get to places like work, home and shopping.”

Pate selected Indiana State over Clark Atlanta University and Tennessee State University after being named a recipient of Indiana’s 21st Century Scholarship. The initiative is an early-college promise program designed to make college more affordable for students. Eligible students who meet requirements receive a two- or four-year scholarship that pays up to 100% tuition at an eligible Indiana college or university.

She plans on studying business management in order to fulfill a dream — starting a business that would help low-income people survive and thrive.

“My goal and hope is to start my own business as I attend college so that I can venture into more opportunities that will help me create a place and services for the people in need,” Pate said. “I wanted to start off with a small pantry in my neighborhood open to all and free. The hope is to start off small and expand. As I go, I will open more pantries, then a family shelter that will provide beds, food, restrooms and medical care.

“My vision is to have multiple outlets in neighborhoods for people to find shelter, food and medical attention without having to pay high amounts which they can’t afford. From personal experience all I wanted was somewhere or someone who would help without the burden of owing back. In the next five years I hope I can help as many people as I can.”

Pate was one of several George Washington seniors to be honored at the school’s breakfast. She was selected based on her well-written essay, a 90% attendance record and strong academic performance.

The Making the Grade program is open to all George Washington students.

“Without a doubt, young students are highly motivated when they know their hard work is appreciated,” said Sylvia Phillips, the school’s community-based resource coordinator. “We want them to see that life is full of rewards if you work toward your goals. This is a powerful mindset to have in the classroom and life. We want to boost pride in themselves both inside and outside the classroom, which sets them up for success as they move onto their post-high school lives.”